Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Paper Solution

The Paper Solution by Lisa Woodruff

Published:  August 4, 2020 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Content and Giveaway book provided by the publisher

Description:

From the “Marie Kondo of paper” comes a simple and accessible guide to paper management.

Americans are drowning in paper. We keep stacks of it on the kitchen counter, stash it in drawers, and store file cabinets full of documents that we never even look at. Studies show that fully 85 percent of the paper in our lives can be tossed–but which 85 percent? And how do we organize and manage the 15 percent that remains?

With The Paper Solution, founder of Organize365 Lisa Woodruff delivers a proven, step-by-step guide for what to shred, what to save, and how to sort what’s left behind. With her method, you’ll learn:

  •  What documents you must absolutely hold on to
  •  Which papers you can dispose of today
  •  How to ditch your bulky filing cabinets and make your vital documents accessible and portable

And at the heart of it all is the Sunday Basket: a box that sits on your counter and corrals those stray bills, forms, coupons, and scraps into an easy-to-use paper-management system. The Sunday Basket will become your new weekly habit–one that leads to less paper, less stress, and more time to spend on the things (and people) that matter most.

About the author:

Lisa Woodruff started Organize365 at her kitchen table in 2012, and today it has become the go-to brand for paper organization, offering podcasts, organizational products, professional certifications, and Sunday Basket workshops that attract people from around the U.S. seeking tools to tame the out-of-control paper in their lives. She lives in West Chester, Ohio, with her family.

Praise for The Paper Solution:

“Systems are the engine to create efficiency in the home. The Paper Solution gives practical tips and tools that allows us all to free up our precious time to focus on what truly matters.” —Eve Rodsky, author of Fair Play

“Drowning in paper? With Lisa’s ingenious methods, you can take control, get more organized, and free up incredible amounts of time. You’ll never lose a day to hunting down a permission slip again.”

—Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock and 168 Hours

“Professional Organizer Lisa Woodruff brings a fresh and realistic approach to paper. I loved that she didn’t tell me to get rid of everything. Lisa shares a method for handling paper in a way that eliminates the unnecessary and keeps what’s needed right where you’ll easily find it. A must-read for anyone that has ever struggled with too much paper and wondered if they are keeping and shredding the right documents. Read this and you’ll know what to do with everything that comes your way.” —Becky Rapinchuk, author of Clean Mama’s Guide to a Healthy Home and Simply Clean

The Paper Solution walks you step-by-step to conquering the paper dilemma in your home…Her tips are practical and doable, leaving readers feeling empowered!” —Maria Dismondy, author, speaker, and publisher of Cardinal Rule Press 

“Lisa’s enthusiasm for productivity and organization shines through every chapter of this book. Her easy-to-follow implementation strategy makes quick work of overwhelming paper piles, and the comprehensive detail within each chapter assures all paper clutter questions have an answer. Lisa is the expert on all things “paper clutter” and The Paper Solution is proof! This go-to resource provides the information, structure, tools, and motivation to properly manage your paper clutter and stop it from taking over your home and life.” —Andrea Dekker, professional organizer and blogger at AndreaDekker.com

“Even in our digital age, paper remains one of the biggest sources of clutter both at home and in the workplace…In The Paper Solution, Lisa Woodruff has presented a practical, actionable approach to solving that problem. I found myself tabbing pages and highlighting sections that spell out easy-to-follow steps for clearing our homes and workspaces of paper clutter. I can’t wait to share this encouraging and truly helpful book with my friends, colleagues, and listeners.” —Laura McClellan, lawyer, productivity coach, and host of The Productive Woman podcast

“It’s a miracle! A system of managing papers (and my life) that works in tandem with my ADHD brain (and those of my clients). The Sunday Basket concept is so simple, yet so brilliant. The book takes you through the entire system, step-by-step. Great reference and great program. Highly recommended!” —Linda Roggli, award-winning author and founder of the ADDiva Network

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Review/US Giveaway: The Big Finish

The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey

Published:  April 14, 2020 – Berkley

Book courtesy of Berkley

Description:

Meet Duffy, an old curmudgeon who lives in an assisted living home.

Meet Josie, a desperate young woman who climbs through his window.

Together, they’re going to learn it’s never too late—or too early—to change your ways.

For Duffy Sinclair, life boils down to one simple thing: maintaining his residence at the idyllic Centennial Assisted Living. Without it, he’s destined for the roach-infested nursing home down the road—and after wasting the first eighty-eight years of his life, he refuses to waste away for the rest. So, he keeps his shenanigans to the bare minimum with the help of his straight-laced best friend and roommate, Carl Upton.

But when Carl’s granddaughter Josie climbs through their bedroom window with booze on her breath and a black eye, Duffy’s faced with trouble that’s sticking around and hard to hide—from Centennial’s management and Josie’s toxic boyfriend. Before he knows it, he’s running a covert operation that includes hitchhiking and barhopping.

He might as well write himself a one-way ticket to the nursing home…or the morgue. Yet Duffy’s all in. Because thanks to an unlikely friendship that becomes fast family—his life doesn’t boil down the same anymore. Not when he finally has a chance to leave a legacy.

In a funny, insightful, and life-affirming debut, Brooke Fossey delivers an unflinching look at growing old, living large, and loving big, as told by a wise-cracking man who didn’t see any of it coming. (publisher)

My take: This is the story of a group of octogenarians at an assisted-living residence. They are under the constant threat of being sent to the full-care nursing home where they know they will wither and die. I fell in love with these colorful characters, especially after a young woman climbed through the window of Carl and Duffy’s room bringing all kinds of trouble with her. I’m a firm believer that God places people in our life when we most need them – the task is to see them and either help them or allow them to help us. It’s a life-affirming process and Brooke Fossey’s novel drove that point home. I loved the ending even though it left me in tears (mostly happy).


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US Giveaway: Becoming Mrs. Lewis paperback release

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Paperback release:  March 24, 2020 – Thomas Nelson

Giveaway copy courtesy of Tandem Literary

The new expanded edition includes:

  • a map of Oxford
  • an expanded discussion guide with 20+questions for book clubs
  • a timeline of Jack and Joy’s lives
  • Joy’s (imagined) letter to Jack
  • 10 Things You May Not Know About Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis’s Love Story
  • A behind the scenes essay: Oxford – The City

Description:

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy. 

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had. (publisher)

My take:  Becoming Mrs. Lewis is about Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis – how they met, became friends (kindred spirits, really) and eventually married. It’s a fascinating story that pulled me in and left me a bit emotional as I turned the last page. Theirs was a cerebral relationship that grew passionate in time. Davidman and Lewis had much in common, not the least being a spiritual conversion – the reason for Davidman’s first letter to Lewis, which he answered, much to her surprise. When she travels to England on the advice of her physician Davidman finally meets Lewis in person. The rest, as they say, is history. Patti Callahan’s novel is well-researched (as detailed in her author’s note at the end of the book). I’m a fan of historical fiction and love when an author motivates me to read more about the subject. That was the case with Becoming Mrs. Lewis. I’ve added titles by Davidman and Lewis to my TBR list. Recommended to fans of the genre and Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis. (originally posted on Bookfan on December 26, 2018)


About the author:

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times best-selling author of fifteen novels, including the (Historical Fiction) BECOMING MRS. LEWIS – The improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis. Now a USA TODAY, Publishers Weekly, and The Globe and Mail bestseller. Her latest novel, THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER, (Southern Contemporary Fiction) was released June 4, 2019, and is available now. A full-time author and mother of three children, she now resides in both Mountain Brook, Alabama and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

Connect with Patti Callahan

Website:  patticallahanhenry.com

twitter:  @pcalhenry

Instagram:  @pattichenry

Facebook:  @AuthorPattiCallahanHenry


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Review/US Giveaway: Who Slays The Wicked

Who Slays The Wicked by C.S. Harris

Paperback release:  March 3, 2020 – Berkley Trade

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:  When the handsome but dissolute young gentleman Lord Ashworth is found brutally murdered, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is called in by Bow Street magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy to help catch the killer. Just seven months before, Sebastian had suspected Ashworth of aiding one of his longtime friends and companions in the kidnapping and murder of a string of vulnerable street children. But Sebastian was never able to prove Ashworth’s complicity. Nor was he able to prevent his troubled, headstrong young niece Stephanie from entering into a disastrous marriage with the dangerous nobleman.

Stephanie has survived the difficult birth of twin sons. But Sebastian soon discovers that her marriage has quickly degenerated into a sham. Ashworth abandoned his pregnant bride at his father’s Park Street mansion and has continued living an essentially bachelor existence. And mounting evidence–ranging from a small bloody handprint to a woman’s silk stocking–suggests that Ashworth’s killer was a woman. Sebastian is tasked with unraveling the shocking nest of secrets surrounding Ashworth’s life to keep Stephanie from being punished for his death. (publisher)

My take:  Who Slays The Wicked is another good historical mystery from C.S. Harris. The intrepid and reliable Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is tasked with solving the ghastly murder of Lord Ashworth, a despicable gentleman who was married to Sebastian’s niece. There’s no shortage of people who are happy that Ashworth is dead but who would go so far as murder? This investigation hits close to home and Sebastian hopes to protect his loved ones while finding out who murdered Ashworth. The atmospheric setting and gritty plot mixed with the upper and lower classes made for a decent whodunit that answered the question in the title: Who Slays The Wicked. I think fans of the Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series and historical mysteries in general will enjoy it. This is book 14 in the series but can easily stand alone.

Note: I also listened to the audiobook. Davina Porter’s narration is perfection.


About the author:

Candice Proctor, aka C.S. Harris and C.S. Graham, is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than a dozen novels including the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series written under the name C.S. Harris, the new C.S. Graham thriller series co-written with Steven Harris, and seven historical romances. She is also the author of a nonfiction historical study of the French Revolution. Her books are available worldwide and have been translated into over twenty different languages.

Candice graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude with a degree in Classics before going on to earn an MA and Ph.D. in history. A former academic, she has taught at the University of Idaho and Midwestern State University in Texas. She also worked as an archaeologist on a variety of sites including a Hudson’s Bay Company Fort in San Juan Island, a Cherokee village in Tennessee, a prehistoric kill site in Victoria, Australia, and a Roman cemetery and medieval manor house in Winchester, England. Most recently, she spent many years as a partner in an international business consulting firm.

The daughter of a career Air Force officer and university professor, Proctor loves to travel and has spent much of her life abroad. She has lived in Spain, Greece, England, France, Jordan, and Australia. She now makes her home in New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband, retired Army officer Steve Harris, her two daughters, and an ever-expanding number of cats.

http://www.csharris.net


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: And They Called it Camelot

And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Expected publication:  March 10, 2020 – Berkley Trade Paperback Original

Book provided by the publisher

Description:

An intimate portrait of the life of Jackie O…
 
Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.
 
But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend. (publisher)

About the author:

Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with women from history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska.


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St. James

Berkley Hardcover; February 18, 2020; $26.00

About the book:

Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, NY. But something isn’t right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and to visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

“Deliciously creepy. A chilling blend of mystery and ghost story that will thrill fans of both.”—Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Lock Every Door

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard

Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard

Paperback Published:  February 2020 – Algonquin

Book provided by the publisher

Description:  When Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln in Springfield in the winter of 1840, he is on no one’s short list to be president. A country lawyer living above a dry goods shop, he is lacking both money and manners, and his gift for oratory surprises those who meet him. Mary, a quick, self-possessed debutante with an interest in debates and elections, at first finds him an enigma. “I can only hope,” she tells his roommate, the handsome, charming Joshua Speed, “that his waters being so very still, they also run deep.”

It’s not long, though, before she sees the Lincoln that Speed knows: an amiable, profound man who, despite his awkwardness, has a gentle wit to match his genius, and who respects her keen political mind. But as her relationship with Lincoln deepens, she must confront his inseparable friendship with Speed, who has taught his roommate how to dance, dress, and navigate the polite society of Springfield.

Told in the alternating voices of Mary Todd and Joshua Speed, and inspired by historical events, Courting Mr. Lincoln creates a sympathetic and complex portrait of Mary unlike any that has come before; a moving portrayal of the deep and very real connection between the two men; and most of all, an evocation of the unformed man who would grow into one of the nation’s most beloved presidents. Louis Bayard, a master storyteller, delivers here a page-turning tale of love, longing, and forbidden possibilities. (publisher)

My take: I guess I’ve been living under a rock because until this novel I’ve never heard any mention that Abraham Lincoln was rumored to be gay. Courting Mr. Lincoln is about his early years in Illinois – where he met Mary Todd and where he lived with his good friend Joshua Speed and two other boarders above Speed’s shop. The novel is told from the perspectives of Mary and Joshua which served to give depth to the characters and added to my empathy for both. I’ve always thought Lincoln seemed like a sad man, consumed with melancholy – and that feeling continues with Bayard’s Lincoln. In contrast I was intrigued by Speed’s magnetic personality. No one could escape his pull. I’d want to sit next to him at a dinner party. For me this was an enjoyable read with sparkling dialogue that kept me turning the pages. Courting Mr. Lincoln is a different look at our 16th President and I’m glad I read it. I feel compelled to read more about Joshua Speed. I love when that happens.


Praise for Courting Mr. Lincoln

“An exquisite novel about how Lincoln’s courtship of the brilliant, complicated Mary Todd intersected with his long and very (possibly VERY) close friendship with Joshua Speed. Courting Mr. Lincoln is so subtle and human and heartbreaking, infused with sly wit. I loved every word of it, and the end is note perfect. My heart broke for both Joshua and Mary, and at the same time, they were the lenses that let me think about my favorite president in new ways.” 

—Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Never Have I Ever

 

“[W]ith a richly imagined setting and complex characters…a worthy addition to the fiction about-Lincoln bookshelf.”

Booklist

 

“Bayard fictionalizes the early days of Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln’s relationship in this delightful embellishment of American history. This charming love story delicately reveals the emotional roller coaster of two inexperienced adults traversing the unknown realm of love while trying to meet the demands and expectations of society.”

Publishers Weekly

A gripping historical thriller … an entertaining novel by a gifted storyteller.”

The Washington Book Review

 

“[An] acute and passionate portrait…[I]n Bayard’s skilled hands, three complicated people groping toward a new phase in their lives is all the plot you need.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

 

“Bayard does an exceptional job of keeping readers engrossed as he weaves fact and fiction in this intriguing tale of intimacy between Lincoln and his two closest confidantes.”

BookPage

 

“ What Bayard has accomplished is to take popular figures in U.S. history and not only make them more real — if that is possible — but humanize them to a level where we all can relate to them. Courting Mr. Lincoln is engaging because Bayard has such a fine way with words. The result is a triumph of a novel and an unforgettable read that is a true page turner.”

Bookreporter.com


About the author:

Louis Bayard is a New York Times Notable Book author and has been shortlisted for both the Edgar and Dagger awards for his historical thrillers, which include The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy. His most recent novel was the critically acclaimed young-adult title Lucky Strikes. He lives in Washington, DC, and teaches at George Washington University. Visit him online at www.louisbayard.com

Photo credit: Tim Coburn


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: More Than Words

More Than Words by Jill Santopolo

Paperback published:  February 2020 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Giveaway book provided by the publisher

Description:  Nina has always known who she’s supposed to be. But is that who she truly is? Nina Gregory has always been a good daughter. Raised by her father, owner of New York City’s glamorous Gregory Hotels, Nina was taught that family, reputation, and legacy are what matter most. And Tim–her devoted boyfriend and best friend since childhood–feels the same. But when Nina’s father dies, he leaves behind a secret that shocks Nina to her core. Soon, Nina begins to see the men in her life–her father, her boyfriend, and unexpectedly, her boss, Rafael–in a new light, finding herself caught between the world she loves, and a passion that could upend everything. MORE THAN WORDS is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about grief, loss, love, and self-discovery, and how we choose which life we are meant to live. (publisher)

Praise for More Than Words

“A smart, sexy, delicious novel.”

People

 

“Santopolo returns with the tender More Than Words.” 

Marie Claire

“Another gorgeously heart-breaking and romantic read. . . . This one is certainly going to sweep you up in feelings.” 

Bustle

 

“A heartfelt story about life, love, and taking chances in the aftermath of loss. . . . This is a charming and sexy crowd-pleaser.”

Publishers Weekly

 

“Nina’s struggle to decide between two men, one of whom represents her old life and the other who represents what she could be if she took a chance, is propulsive and compelling. The depiction of Nina’s grief for her father is vividly raw, made more real by her eventual understanding that he was an imperfect human being. Full of drama, scandal, and romance, [More Than Words] is sure to delight fans of Santopolo’s The Light We Lost.”

Kirkus Reviews

 

“The latest from best-selling author Santopolo is a bittersweet and reflective novel of grief, loss, and coming into one’s own. Fans of leisurely paced and character-driven novels will appreciate the time she spends developing Nina’s voice and ensuring that it’s heard.”

Booklist

 

More Than Words is an outstandingly poignant and honest novel. Jill Santopolo is a true master of matters of the heart. This is a tender and wise story about family, love, and self. I couldn’t put it down.”

Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

 

“The perfect combination of romantic and real. I dare you to put this book down.”

Leslie Cohen, author of This Love Story Will Self-Destruct

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Promises of the Heart by Nan Rossiter plus a US Giveaway

Promises of the Heart by Nan Rossiter

Publication date:  February 4, 2020 – Harper Paperbacks

ARC courtesy of the author

Description:  Macey and Ben Samuelson have much to be thankful for: great friends, a beautiful—if high-maintenance—Victorian house on idyllic Tybee Island, and a rock-solid marriage. The only thing missing is what they want the most. After her fifth miscarriage in six years, Macey worries that the family they’ve always dreamed of might be out of reach. Her sister suggests adoption, but Macey and Ben aren’t interested in pursuing that path…until a three-legged Golden Retriever named Keeper wags his way into their home and their hearts.

Harper Wheaton just got kicked out of another foster home and it won’t be the last if she keeps losing her temper. She’s not sure why she gets mad; maybe because no family seems to want a nine-year-old girl with a heart condition. She loves her social worker, Cora, but knows that staying with her forever isn’t an option. Will she ever find a family to call her own?

As a physician’s assistant, Macey meets lots of kids. Harper Wheaton’s a tough one, but Macey knows the little girl has already struggled more than most. It gets Macey and Ben to thinking about all the children who need homes. Then Harper goes missing, and one thing is suddenly crystal clear: life is complicated—but love doesn’t have to be. (publisher)

My take:  Promises of the Heart is one of those novels that surprised me by how quickly it worked itself into my heart. I grew to love the characters and worried how life would go for them all.

Nine-year-old Harper’s mother died years ago. She’s never met her father and she’s had heart-breaking foster situations. Ben and Macey have just suffered another miscarriage. All they’ve wanted is a family to fill their big Victorian fixer-upper on Tybee Island. Is it possible that dream will ever come true? Reading Nan Rossiter’s story about people longing to be part of a family felt like being wrapped in a warm hug. The more time I spent with Macey, Ben and Harper the longer I wanted that hug to continue.

This is a story of keeping faith, putting oneself out there when it would be easier to shut the world out to lessen the chance for more emotional pain. I loved Promises of the Heart and recommend it to anyone who loves an emotional, heartwarming and uplifting story about family.


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The Vineyards of Champagne; US Giveaway

The Vineyards of Champagne by Juliet Blackwell

Published:  January 21, 2020 – Berkley

Book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Deep within the labyrinth of caves that lies below the lush, rolling vineyards of the Champagne region, an underground city of women and children hums with life. Forced to take shelter from the unrelenting onslaught of German shellfire above, the bravest and most defiant women venture out to pluck sweet grapes for the harvest. But wine is not the only secret preserved in the cool, dark cellars…

In present day, Rosalyn Acosta travels to Champagne to select vintages for her Napa-based employer. Rosalyn doesn’t much care for champagne–or France, for that matter. Since the untimely death of her young husband, Rosalyn finds it a challenge to enjoy anything at all. But as she reads through a precious cache of WWI letters and retraces the lives lived in the limestone tunnels, Rosalyn will unravel a mystery hidden for decades…and find a way to savor her own life again. (publisher)

My take:  The Vineyards of Champagne is Juliet Blackwell’s story of Rosalyn, a young woman adjusting to life as a widow. The wine seller she works for in Napa sends her to Champagne to obtain new wines from small vineyards. On the flight to France she meets Emma, an Australian woman who shares a remarkable story of the brave people of France during WWI. She asks Rosalyn if she’d like to help solve a mystery that involves the area of Champagne and letters between a soldier, a young woman, and an Australian marraine de guerre (war godmother). This is a story of learning to move forward through grief when it would be so easy not to let go of it. My heart broke for what the French people endured during the war years and yet they continued to bring in the harvest and make the wine. The ability to put one foot in front of the other was inspiring. The Vineyards of Champagne touched my heart and I recommend it to fans of Juliet Blackwell and Historical Fiction.


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US Giveaway: The Little Book of Bob by James Bowen

The Little Book of Bob

Life Lessons from a Street-wise Cat

By James Bowen

Published: October 2019 – Thomas Dunne Books

Giveaway book courtesy of the publisher

“An international phenomenon” –Library Journal

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Street Cat Named Bob comes an uplifting book of wisdom and advice from the most street-savvy cat of them all.

In spring of 2007, street busker James Bowen found an injured orange tabby in the hallway of his shelter home in North London. Their friendship changed both of their lives and led to the internationally bestselling book A Street Cat Named Bob.

But fame hasn’t gone to James or Bob’s heads. In Bob, James found a model for friendship, steadfastness, balance, and joy that we can all apply to our own lives. The Little Book of Bob is a heartfelt and wholesome book about how to be kinder to ourselves and kinder to the world around us.

Cats are amazing creatures, as all animal lovers know. Tender and wise, this is a little book with a big heart. (publisher)

About the author:

James Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of A Street Cat Named Bob. He found Bob in 2007 and the pair have been inseparable ever since. They both live in north London.

Praise for A Street Cat Named Bob

“Thank heavens for Bob, whose steady gaze and cool composure are a welcome tonic to the surrounding sentimentality.” – The New York Times

“Stellar…A beautiful never maudlin story of second chances for both man and beast and a poignant testimony to how much caring for someone – or some feline – can give you renewed direction where you’re down and out. Understandably, this was a best-seller in England.” – Booklist (starred)

“A rich, moving story of the link between a street-wise cat and a man who earns his living on the streets – perfect for cat lovers.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Move over, Marley. A stray cat from north London could be heading for the lap of luxury as the cinema’s next box office pet sensation.” – The Times (UK)

“A simple, sweet and ridiculously heartwarming story.” – The Huffington Post

“A book with the strong ingredients that made Marley and Me and Dewey big successes…A warm and poignant memoir.” – The Guardian (UK)


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Once Removed by Colette Sartor

Once Removed by Colette Sartor

Published: September 15, 2019 – University of Georgia Press

Book provided by the publisher and Tandem Literary

Description: Women drive the narrative in ONCE REMOVED. They carry the burdens imposed in the name of intimacy: the secrets kept, lies told, disputes initiated and the joy that can still manage to triumph. A singer with a damaged voice and an assumed identity befriends a silent, troubled child; an infertile law professor covets a tenant’s daughterly affection; a new mother tries to shield her infant from her estranged mother’s surprise Easter visit; an aging shopkeeper hides her husband’s decline and a decades-old lie to keep her best friends from moving away. With depth and an acute sense of the fragility of intimate connection, Colette Sartor creates characters that resonate with familiarity and emotional complexity. Some of these women possess the fierce natures and long, vengeful memories of expert grudge holders. Others avoid conflict at every turn, or so they tell themselves. For all of them, grief lies at the core of love. #onceremovedstories.


About the author:

COLETTE SARTOR teaches at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program as well as privately and is an executive director of the CineStory Foundation, a mentoring organization for emerging TV writers and screenwriters. Her writing has appeared in Carve magazine, Slice magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Kenyon Review Online, Colorado Review, and other publications. Among other awards, she has been granted a Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, a Glenna Luschei Award, a Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award, and a Truman Capote fellowship from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she completed her MFA.

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https://twitter.com/colettesartor
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Praise for ONCE REMOVED:

“Colette Sartor’s stories shimmer with a radiant, unsettling light. She strips away the veils that we hide behind and exposes our deepest fears and desires, revealing who we inescapably are. The stories are laced with dark humor and raw, earned emotion, and they proceed from page to page with a beautiful urgency. Her prose sings and her wounded characters linger in readers’ memories like people you’ve known, people you could have been had luck gone the other way. This is trenchant, gorgeous fiction, the voice of a writer you’ll follow anywhere, everywhere.” —Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This

“These are short stories the way they were meant to be told, from a writer who, tale after tale, proves her mastery of the form. Peopled with characters that are bracingly complex, these stories tease out the subtleties of human relationships, especially when they’ve gone awry. I was absorbed and moved from every first sentence to the last.” —Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

“Lordy, what a wallop each of these stories delivers—to the heart and the head, sure, but also to the conscience and the soul, not to mention to the myths of family that we embrace and to the vital lies peculiar to love that we cleave to. Equally stunning is Ms. Sartor’s command of craft—no cleverness for its own sake, no peekaboo, no ‘Look, Ma, no hands.’ Instead, with enviable humility and no little grace, she has subordinated herself to the needs, wishes, desires, and dreams of characters who have galvanized her imagination and engaged her empathy. Bravo.” — Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories

Once Removed is that rare book that succeeds on both micro and macro levels; the stories focus on the specific intimacy of individual lives yet also participate in the larger project of a whole world made of these stories—dependent on them, in fact, supported and enlarged and sustained by them. Sartor’s women suffer the internal and external scarring of the dangerous terrain they navigate: love, family, self, community. They ask uncomfortable questions, both of themselves and of the reader; it’s hugely satisfying to reach the end of the book and feel the resonant strength of the answers it proposes.” — Antonya Nelson, author of Bound


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US Giveaway – Trade Paperback release: The Splendor Before the Dark by Margaret George

The Splendor before the Dark by Margaret George

Paperback publication:  October 8, 2019 – Berkley Books

Description:

Ascending to the throne was only the beginning… Now Margaret George, the author of The Confessions of Young Nero, weaves a web of politics and passion, as ancient Rome’s most infamous emperor cements his place in history.

With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman empire, ushering in an unprecedented era of artistic and cultural splendor. Although he has yet to produce an heir, his power is unquestioned.

But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero’s complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace–and the politicians…

For better or worse, Nero knows that his fate is now tied to Rome’s–and he vows to rebuild it as a city that will stun the world. But there are those who find his rampant quest for glory dangerous. Throughout the empire, false friends and spies conspire against him, not understanding what drives him to undertake the impossible.

Nero will either survive and be the first in his family to escape the web of betrayals that is the Roman court, or be ensnared and remembered as the last radiance of the greatest dynasty the world had ever known. (publisher)

My take:  (originally posted November 2018 – Hardcover edition)

I confess to knowing virtually nothing about Nero going into this novel – save a visual of him playing the fiddle while Rome burned. As usual, Margaret George brought me up to speed in a most entertaining way. Her historical fiction novel played out in the form of Nero’s autobiography with additional viewpoints from his first love, Acte, and Locusto, his poisons consultant. It’s a story of political plots and intrigue, living with rumors and innuendo, and never quite knowing who was worthy of Nero’s trust.

I’ve read Margaret Georges’s previous novels about Cleopatra and Helen of Troy so I was unsurprised by the 500+ pages it took to tell Nero’s story. I also knew it would be meticulously researched and presented in her usual engaging style. The Afterword is very interesting and I appreciated the family tree and maps included at the beginning of the book. I think fans of the author and historical fiction will enjoy and learn from this story. I certainly did.


About the author:

Margaret George is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels of biographical historical fiction, including The Confessions of Young Nero; Elizabeth I; Helen of Troy; Mary, Called Magdalene; The Memoirs of Cleopatra; Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles; and The Autobiography of Henry VIII. She also has coauthored a children’s book, Lucile Lost.


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US Giveaway: Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

Berkley Hardcover; September 10, 2019

Description:

From the international bestselling author of The Gilded Hour comes Sara Donati’s enthralling epic about two trailblazing female doctors in nineteenth-century New York
 
Obstetrician Dr. Sophie Savard returns home to the achingly familiar rhythms of Manhattan in the early spring of 1884 to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. With the help of Dr. Anna Savard, her dearest friend, cousin, and fellow physician she plans to continue her work aiding the disadvantaged women society would rather forget.
 
As Sophie sets out to construct a new life for herself, Anna’s husband, Detective-Sergeant Jack Mezzanotte calls on them both to consult on two new cases: the wife of a prominent banker has disappeared into thin air, and the corpse of a young woman is found with baffling wounds that suggest a killer is on the loose.  In New York it seems that the advancement of women has brought out the worst in some men. Unable to ignore the plight of New York’s less fortunate, these intrepid cousins draw on all resources to protect their patients. (publisher)


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs

Published August 27, 2019 – Berkley

Content for this post provided by the publisher

Description:

The headlines have made it known:  driverless cars are coming. And soon. As author John Marrs has put it:  “Whether we like it or not, there are arriving soon. Within the next decade, we will be sitting in the front seats of our vehicles with a flat dashboard containing no steering wheel, and below us, no brakes. We will be in the hands of an operating system that we cannot touch and that we cannot see. It will be making life or death decisions for us. But what if that artificial intelligence could be compromised? What if it is hacked and something – or someone – other than the OS is controlling our destiny?”

Marrs takes that idea and hits full speed in THE PASSENGERS. In it, the British government has mandated all cars be automated. Several years into their implementation, on a seemingly average day, eight people get into their self-driving cars. Suddenly on their journey, the doors lock and the pre-determined route changes. The riders have lost all control. A mysterious voice tells them, “You are going to die.” 

These passengers—an aging actress, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man—are panicked. From cameras hidden in their cars, their frantic pleas for help are broadcast to millions of people around the world. The public will show their true colors when they are asked, “Which of these people should we save? Who should we kill first?”

The passengers desperately plead for the lives and sell themselves to the cameras blasting this onto social media. But it soon becomes apparent most of these passengers haven’t been picked randomly. They are all hiding secrets that, once revealed, could be the difference between life and death for each of them.


About the author:

John Marrs is the author of The One which is being made into a 10 part Netflix series, The Good Samaritan, Her Last Move, When You Disappeared, and Welcome to Wherever You Are. Until recently, he worked for twenty-five years as a freelance journalist based in London, England, where he interviewed celebrities from the world of television, film, and music for national newspapers and magazines. He has written for publications including the Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online, Total Film, the Huffington Post, Empire, Q, GT, the Independent, S Magazine, and Company. He is now a full-time author.

Praise for THE PASSENGERS:

THE PASSENGERS is a 1970s disaster movie by way of Black Mirror, with an added dash of technology-gone-wrong straight out of Michael Crichton….If you’re looking for a sleek, exhilarating ride, look no further.”— Financial Times

 

“One can almost hear the Hollywood music in the background as the action unfolds; the plot twists are truly gripping….Summer blockbuster entertainment at its best.”— Kirkus Reviews

 

“[THE PASSENGERS’s] strength lies in its well-developed characters and in its exploration of issues such as the growing role of AI, mob psychology, and the ethics of who gets to decide who lives or dies.”— Publishers Weekly

 

“Marrs excels at thrilling readers by creating a real sense of tension and delivering a believable, harsh criticism of modern society through this dark and entertaining story.” —Los Angeles Times

 

“What a ride!”—Booklist


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Patchwork Bride

The Patchwork Bride by Sandra Dallas

Paperback publication: August 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Giveaway book courtesy of the publisher

From Sandra Dallas, the best-selling author of A Quilt for Christmas, comes the irrepressible story of one woman’s quest to find love without losing herself in the American West – now available in paperback.

Ellen is putting the finishing touches on a wedding quilt made from scraps of old dresses when the bride-to-be—her granddaughter June—unexpectedly arrives and announces she’s calling off the marriage. With the tending of June’s uncertain heart in mind, Ellen tells her the story of Nell, a Kansas-born woman who goes to the High Plains of New Mexico Territory in 1898 in search of a husband.

Working as a biscuit-shooter, Nell falls for a cowboy named Buddy. She sees a future together, but she can’t help wondering if his feelings for her are true. When Buddy breaks her heart, she runs away.

In her search for a soul mate, Nell will run away from marriage twice more before finding the love of her life. It’s a tale filled with excitement, heartbreak, disappointment, and self-discovery—as well as with hard-earned life lessons about love. Another stunning, emotional novel from a master storyteller.

Sandra Dallas is the author of fifteen novels, including A Quilt for Christmas, Fallen Women, True Sisters, The Bride’s House, Whiter Than Snow, Prayers for Sale, Tallgrass and New Mercies. She is a former Denver bureau chief for Business Week magazine and lives in Denver, Colorado.


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Rosie Colored Glasses

Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

MIRA Trade Paperback Reprint; June 11, 2019

“What a wonderful, emotional ride! It’s like the Ordinary People of the 21st century…such an achievement!” —Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Summer That Made Us

SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH ROSIE COLORED GLASSES

Just as opposites attract, they can also cause friction, and no one feels that friction more than Rex and Rosie’s daughter, Willow. Rex is serious and unsentimental and tapes checklists of chores on Willow’s bedroom door. Rosie is sparkling and enchanting and meets Willow in their treehouse in the middle of the night to feast on candy.

After Rex and Rosie’s divorce, Willow finds herself navigating their two different worlds. She is clearly under the spell of her exciting, fun-loving mother. But as Rosie’s behavior becomes more turbulent, the darker underpinnings of her manic love are revealed.

Rex had removed his Rosie colored glasses long ago, but will Willow do the same?

Whimsical, heartbreaking and uplifting, this is a novel about the many ways love can find you. Rosie Colored Glasses triumphs with the most endearing examples of how mothers and fathers and sons and daughters bend for one another. (Publisher)


Praise for Rosie Colored Glasses:

Rosie Colored Glasses begins with love, imagination and wonder, then slides into haunting loss and longing, but oh, how love remains and bursts forth to fill the story.”

–CAROL FITZGERALD, Bookreporter

“Brianna Wilson has done a marvelous and generous thing by writing Rosie Colored Glasses. I followed Willow with a hopeful, breaking heart, reminded how all of us, daughters, mothers, parents, children, are “different” in so many ways, and yet so beautiful and absolutely deserving of giving and receiving our love. “

–NANCY THAYER, New York Times bestselling author of Secrets in Summer

Rosie Colored Glasses is tender and bright, a compelling novel of a young girl (who completely owned my heart) and the mother she adores and fears and needs so badly. Brianna Wolfson is a wonderful writer. She has captured so brilliantly the demons and angels of mental illness, love and longing.”

–LUANNE RICE, New York Times bestselling author of The Beautiful

“A brilliant and beguiling debut exploring the highs and heartbreaking lows of love. Sparkling, insightful and honest, the Thorpe family’s powerful story will stay in my thoughts for a long time.”

–PHAEDRA PATRICK, author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Rosie Colored Glasses is a bittersweet, tender exploration of many kinds of love. This compelling novel, with unpredictable turns, reveals what love can save and what it can’t.”

–HELEN KLEIN ROSS, award-winning author of What Was Mine

“Heartbreaking and beautiful all at once… a stained glass window pieced together from shards of broken family life that create an illuminated picture of what it means to survive one’s childhood.”

–BUNMI LADITAN, author of Confessions of a Domestic Failure

“A great debut … Brianna Wolfson’s Rosie Colored Glasses has a voice that is irresistible.”

–J.P. MONNINGER, award winning author of The Map That Leads to You


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: If You Want To Make God Laugh

If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

Published July 16, 2019 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Description: From the author of the beloved Hum If You Don’t Know the Words comes a rich, unforgettable story of three unique women in post-Apartheid South Africa who are brought together in their darkest time and discover the ways that love can transcend the strictest of boundaries.

In a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, seventeen-year-old Zodwa lives in desperate poverty, under the shadowy threat of a civil war and a growing AIDS epidemic. Eight months pregnant, Zodwa carefully guards secrets that jeopardize her life.

Across the country, wealthy socialite Ruth appears to have everything her heart desires, but it’s what she can’t have that leads to her breakdown. Meanwhile, in Zaire, a disgraced former nun, Delilah, grapples with a past that refuses to stay buried. When these personal crises send both middle-aged women back to their rural hometown to heal, the discovery of an abandoned newborn baby upends everything, challenging their lifelong beliefs about race, motherhood, and the power of the past.

As the mystery surrounding the infant grows, the complicated lives of Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah become inextricably linked. What follows is a mesmerizing look at family and identity that asks: How far will the human heart go to protect itself and the ones it loves?


About the author:

Bianca Marais is the author of Hum If You Don’t Know the Words. She holds a certificate in creative writing from the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, where she now teaches creative writing. Before turning to writing, she started a corporate training company and volunteered with Cotlands, where she assisted care workers in Soweto with providing aid for HIV/AIDS orphans. Originally from South Africa, she now lives in Toronto with her husband.

Praise for Bianca Marais:

“Set against the backdrop of the Mandela presidency, the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, and the burgeoning AIDS epidemic, the story offers a look into the staggering emotional cost of secrecy, broken family bonds, racism, and sexual violence. Marais once again showcases her talent for pulling beauty from the pain of South African history with a strong story and wonderfully imperfect characters.” Publishers Weekly

“A moving portrait of the choices women can make–and the ones we can’t. Beautifully crafted and powerfully drawn, this book had me in tears.” —Jill Santopolo, bestselling author of The Light We Lost and More Than Words

“A story of three remarkable women at crossroads in their own lives against the backdrop of South Africa at the moment of stunning transformation that will keep you reading late into the night. Marais deftly completes a writer’s hat trick, leaving you gutted, smiling through tears and soaring with hope.” —Steven Rowley, bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor

“You will absolutely love this book. You will. Why? Because Bianca Marais’s heart is immense and full of love. With unsparing insight into the human condition, she unspools a tale that is at once heartbreaking as it is merciful, validating our frailty while eulogizing our endless capacity for generosity and love. We all need the deep refuge of Bianca Marais’s exceptional voice.” Robin Oliveira, author of My Name is Mary Sutter and I Always Loved You

“Radiant…A stirring ode to a country’s painful maturation.” O, The Oprah Magazine on HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS

“Richly drawn…[The characters’] journeys and eventual love poignantly demonstrate that nothing is simply black or white.” USA Today on HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS

 “With its vivid, emotional scene-setting, alternating narration and tense plotting, this novel is a thoughtful, compelling page-turner.” Good Housekeeping on HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Paperback published June 4, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and Tandem Literary

Description: When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.  

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget. (publisher)

My take: (originally published October 1, 2018)

What would you do to save your unborn child, the last connection to your husband who was killed in the war? Caroline (Carly) Sears’ answer is “anything”. And that is why she agrees to travel to another time to get medical help for her daughter’s heart. If she doesn’t, her baby doesn’t have much hope of survival after her birth. Carly will do whatever it takes to give her daughter a chance at life.

So the question I began with led to other questions such as could I place trust in a friend like Carly did in Hunter, her brother-in-law? Could I be as brave as Carly? Would I be able to travel alone to a place where I knew no one and then deal with life-altering issues? After finishing I don’t have an answer for every question but I would aspire to be as courageous as Carly.

Diane Chamberlain’s time-travel story is very accessible to readers who normally don’t go in for that sub-genre. That would include me! This novel is a true page turner that had me looking forward to getting back to the story whenever I had to set it down. It’s an emotional story that covers several decades from the 1960s to the 2020s. I enjoyed it all and recommend it to fans of Diane Chamberlain.


Praise for THE DREAM DAUGHTER:

“This mind-bender of a novel will keep you glued to the page.”—People Magazine

“We may forget how different life was in 1970, but imagine being thrust from those days to 2013. Diane Chamberlain does in this terrific novel.”—NJ.com, Top Ten Books of 2018

“Chamberlain stretches her sense of familial relationships with toe-curling suspense in new directions, weaving in elements of trust, history, and time as she explores the things we do for love. With a little tension and a lot of heart, The Dream Daughter will delight.”—Booklist

“Chamberlain writes with supernatural gifts akin to those she chronicles in the book, seamlessly weaving time travel and global events into a credible and gut-wrenching family saga. Fate, destiny, chance and hope combine for a heady and breathless wonder of a read.”—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale**

“Can a story be both mind-bending and heartfelt? In Diane Chamberlain’s hands, it can. The Dream Daughter will hold readers in anxious suspense until the last satisfying page.”—Therese Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z*

“Rich and breathtaking.”—Woman’s World

The Dream Daughter is a heartwarming and exciting page turner.”—Augusta Chronicle 

“Chamberlain’s exciting and heartfelt novel is a page-turning crowd-pleaser.”—Publishers Weekly

“The story is well-paced and the ending satisfyingly sweet.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An entertaining chick-lit adventure.”—Wilmington Star-News


About the author:

Diane Chamberlain is the international bestselling author of 25 novels. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie.

Connect:

Website: https://dianechamberlain.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Diane.Chamberlain.Readers.Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/d_chamberlain
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chamberlain_diane/


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